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朱萧发:委内瑞拉的病,西方开的解药还是毒药?

2018-07-02 07:35:50

在超现实喜剧《蒙提·派森的飞行马戏团》中,我最爱桥段是委内瑞拉工人阶级上街游行、呼吁国家采取新自由主义经济改革。好吧,那一幕并不存在,是我瞎编的,不过也恰恰说明了这一慕有多么荒谬,以至于我们只能想象它在《蒙提·派森的飞行马戏团》中出现。但这种荒谬性并不妨碍《电讯报》在社评中做出以下论断:“今天,国有化在委内瑞拉成了骂人的脏话,人们正强烈呼吁各大产业再次私有化。” 这样的论断被英国媒体视作常识,完全无需提供任何佐证,甚至不必假借某个虚构出来的名叫费尔南多的农民之口说出上述言论。

他们的结论——因为委内瑞拉的社会主义出了毛病,所以“失信的社会主义意识形态必须被丢进历史的垃圾箱”——再次说明作者是多么鲁莽自利、轻慢无知,才拼凑出一篇符合编辑部立场的文章。他们连连贯的句子都写不出,甚至写得还不如那篇读起来牙齿都磕绊不断的《科尔宾同志的宫廷政变》(Comrade Corbyn’s Palace Coup)。

《电讯报》一向不负众望地精彩扮演着所有西方报纸中最鲁钝的角色。一方面出于对国际自由主义的热忱,另一方面出于对其他国家社会、历史、政治环境的无知,《电讯报》代表了西方的一种意识形态。在这种意识形态里,每个人都想成为西方人。

在垃圾箱中翻找食物的加拉加斯人

从委内瑞拉的失败推导出社会主义永远行不通,这样的逻辑就跟拿一台不插电的洗碗机来证明天下所有洗碗机都将无可避免地失灵没什么两样。

委内瑞拉的问题在于,它不具备任何使社会主义或其他任何政治哲学正常运作的条件。马杜罗总统采取的非理性经济政策本身,只是该国治理问题表现出来的症状。实际上,西方在分析委内瑞拉的悲剧时,是把马杜罗政权政策错误和政府腐败割裂开来的——换句话说,他们认为即使在相对廉洁的政治环境下,该国政策仍是具有破坏性的。

然而看看委内瑞拉的历史我们就会知道,这两个因素是无法割裂开的。西方明明懂得这个道理却装作无知,是因为他们早已想好了结论,再找理由来套这个结论。然而,看看委内瑞拉独立运动之父西蒙·玻利瓦尔的研究结果,我们就会发现该国还有许多深层历史问题没有得到解决,而今天社会主义失灵只是这些问题的表面症状。

现代委内瑞拉是一出放纵与混乱的悲剧,其丰厚的自然财富竟然成了其经济欠发达和持续革命的原因。500年前,当西班牙“征服者”登陆委内瑞拉时,这片土地已经非常富裕,因此没有必要建立像北美那样创造和传播财富的组织机构。由于土著居民没有被消灭,作为殖民者的“克里奥尔精英”(出生在南美的西班牙白人)在当地仍然是少数民族,而在1811年委内瑞拉独立后,他们却以1%的人口拥有了当地几乎全部土地。在这一群体发动政变之后,马克思主义政治学成为了一种令人难以抗拒的意识形态。如果将反对革命但鼓励改革的英国宪法与委内瑞拉宪法进行对比,差异无比强烈。据我上一次统计,委内瑞拉的宪法已经更新到第26部了。

哪怕曾经深陷挫败,哪怕曾遭流放他乡,哪怕已经去世200年,西蒙·玻利瓦尔对当代委内瑞拉的了解程度仍然超过当今西方世界的任何人。玻利瓦尔曾经提出,代议制不适合委内瑞拉,因为“我们当中既没有行政官,又没有金融家,也很少有商人。”现代自由主义者当然更无法接受玻利瓦尔的结论。他曾经这样问道:“鉴于我们的种族混合情况和道德记录,我们能否承受得起一个法律在领袖之上、原则在人民之上的体制?”

1828年的委内瑞拉是一个除了人之外,既没有财产也没有法律的国家,玻利瓦尔正是在这样的环境中颁布了宪法,规定了自己作为终身独裁者的角色,赋予了自己选择继承人的自由——查韦斯后来也享受了这样的特权。

委内瑞拉国父西蒙·玻利瓦尔(1783-1830)

带着历史眼光,我们现在可以回过头看一下委内瑞拉今天如何制定政策。西方媒体在报道中将委内瑞拉政府管制价格和扭曲市场的行为——它们无疑是笨拙和欠考虑的——视为马克思主义经济学的实践结果。

但西方媒体的经济理性主义仅仅是一个烟雾弹,它是为了掩盖那条同时受到玻利瓦尔赞美与谴责的悖论,即凌驾于法律之上的人。根据委内瑞拉令人摸不着头脑的外汇政策,该国可以同时以三种汇率进行交易,政府高官可以轻易买卖美元套现5万倍差价。这叫做社会主义,还是后现代脱离责任制轨道的玻利瓦尔专制主义?

但希望仍然存在:有证据表明委内瑞拉问题可以得到解决,并且政权决策错误和腐败是不可切割看待的。玻利维亚社会情况与委内瑞拉比较相似,但它却成功实现了类似的政策目标。

玻利维亚的社会主义者成功地维持了经济的强劲增长,并在更困难的情况下显著减少了贫困。纵观玻利维亚的财政记录,管理不善的历史更久:过去50年里,玻利维亚的通货膨胀率平均为281%,但目前仅为3.01%。委内瑞拉的同时期通胀平均水平为94%——尽管也很高,但与玻利维亚相比显然是小巫见大巫,但委内瑞拉现在通胀却高达13,000%。

玻利维亚的大宗商品贸易不如委内瑞拉繁荣,2004年社会主义总统埃沃·莫拉莱斯开始执政时,该国年度出口创汇仅22亿美元,到2014年增长到168.5亿美元;而同时期的委内瑞拉,出口收入从230亿美元增长到1530亿美元。

国际货币基金组织预测委内瑞拉通胀率将在年内突破20,000%

玻利维亚之所以没有陷入委内瑞拉的局面,是因为莫拉莱斯政府在经济繁荣期间节省开支,造成预算盈余而非赤字。1982年,玻利维亚也经历过与今天委内瑞拉类似的社会经济崩溃,通货膨胀率一度高达24,000%。但自那以后,由于多民族取得共识拿出有力的解决方案,玻利维亚遵守政治实用主义,取得了一系列改革的成功,其中文化敏感性、军政分离、鼓励外资、淡化意识形态发挥了核心作用。这个良好的政府解决了“征服者”遗留下来的问题。西方媒体试图给出委内瑞拉问题的答案,但却忽略了当地的具体情况,也从来不提以上这些已被证明的成功实践,尤其是军政分离。

《金融时报》撰文称,“(委内瑞拉社会抗议的)目的不是政权更迭本身”,然后立马提出了一个关于政权更迭的愿景——“而是一个遵守宪法、稳定经济、允许选举和释放政治犯的政府”。哥伦比亚总统也提出类似观点:“希望政权内部得到军事支持的势力恢复民主和宪法的合法性,并迅速举行选举。”

《纽约时报》曾表示“问题的关键在于,如何赶在马杜罗完全摧毁委内瑞拉之前让他下台。”紧随这一断言之后,《纽约时报》又看似漫不经心地提醒读者,委内瑞拉拥有世界上最大的石油储备,然后再继续写道:“但这决不意味着美国将像特朗普暗示的那样采取军事行动……很难看到特朗普政府领导的政权更迭将如何大幅改善委内瑞拉的局面。”这段话似乎在暗示,如果坐镇白宫的是奥巴马,美国搞政权更迭就没有问题。

这一次,美国自由派致力于创新马克思主义辩证法,提出“不搞政权更迭的政权更迭”政策。三个事实至关重要:首先,委内瑞拉的政治犯主要是2002年军事政变的领导者;其次,自由主义智库欧亚集团的拉美研究主任在委内瑞拉竞选之前表示,即使选举自由公平,马杜罗还是会赢得胜利;第三,委内瑞拉唯一具有公信力的宪法,是社会上不成文的宪法且它宣称正式宪法不具公信力。因此,《金融时报》和哥伦比亚总统所呼吁的那种亟待恢复的自由民主制度根本就没有在委内瑞拉存在过。委内瑞拉当前的宪法来自军事政变,而其针对的政府原本获得大多数人民的支持,因此新宪法本来就不具备合法性。

《纽约时报》的建议是增加制裁力度,对反政府势力给予支持,这显然是个欠考虑的方案。马杜罗威胁那些不投票给他的人要撤销他们的粮票,而且经济制裁造成的伤害往往落到最穷的人头上,所以西方如果采取这样的措施,反而会让委内瑞拉总统把自己的问题归咎于美国,拉美政治家很擅长借题发挥抨击美国。此外,如果西方支持委内瑞拉反政府势力,那么选举更谈不上自由公平了——天天炒作“通俄门”的《纽约时报》应该最了解这一点。

西方的侵犯将被视为新自由主义在委内瑞拉复辟的尝试,马杜罗的核心投票者对此坚决反对。在实行新自由主义政策的20年里,委内瑞拉贫困人口增加了45%。查韦斯之所以广受拥戴,正是因为他成功将贫困率从50%降低到25%,极端贫困人口减少了三分之二。尽管我不认为反对派领导人应该被关押入狱,但西方精英必须明白,委内瑞拉人很难相信一个受美国支持的政权不会实行高压政策。把个别阻碍委内瑞拉民众人生机遇和自豪感的人物投入大牢,并不会让委内瑞拉人沮丧退缩。

29年前的加拉加斯大骚乱的起因,是佩雷斯总统按国际货币基金组织——他此前曾称该组织为“杀人的中子弹”——的建议实行了新自由主义改革。这场骚乱造成的死亡人数可能高达2000,它还废止了原来宪法中大部分保证个人自由的条款。

马杜罗的支持来自对新自由主义失望的选民

委内瑞拉上一次新自由主义实验导致的社会动荡可能比今天更加严重。政权更迭的威胁阴云笼罩——但那毫无疑问是西方预期的结果。在西方人看来,社会主义是西方的发明(就在大英图书馆里),并且西方已经意识到它行不通,世界其他地区也终将慢慢意识到这一点。

西方认为在富有马克思主义意味的“发展阶段论”中,西方领先于世界许多步——而其他国家很快就会发现他们的道路是错误的。因此,在自由主义者眼中社会主义的失败成了一种自我实现式的预言,使他们无法察觉特殊环境因素的作用。然而,西方必须审视他们的坚定信仰,即全球中低收入国家正在朝着时尚的自由主义模式“发展”。因为现实证明,中俄等发展中国家并没有朝着“自由主义”发展。

这便是今天的白人至上主义。西方以一种堕落的方式回应委内瑞拉危机,展现出西方当代思想甚至还不如帝国主义时代的思想——尽管那已经是种族主义的代名词。按照自由主义的逻辑,侵略或帝国主义等干涉手段,能够加速西方政治体制作为一种普世性目标的到来,因而有助于减轻被干涉国民众的痛苦。

在目睹了伊拉克的遭遇后,西方变得前所未见的“仁慈”起来,允许发展中国家按照各自的步伐朝国际自由主义坚定不移地“发展”,西方在不把自身信条强加于其他国家的同时,也没有像大英帝国那样对殖民地内部投资,甚至没有像美国占领伊拉克那样提供安全保障,就连今天最糟糕的做法,也不过是实行严酷的制裁,偶尔轰炸一下这些非西方国家——而这两种做法伤害最深的,便是已经生活在水深火热中的穷人。

施加国际援助的条件应该是政府廉洁程度,而不应该与具体的政治经济条件和政策挂钩。要改变政治和经济状况,休克疗法绝对行不通,必须在国家政府主导下,以灵活变通的方式逐步实现。只有这样,主权国家才能够铺设自己的发展道路。

如今的西方已经不再为发展中国家制造恐慌,不再痴迷于建构使当地安全得不到保障、使财富聚集于部分人手中的政治制度,而能做到严于自律,不再唾骂那些对国家财政政策没有责任的普通男女——这样的西方可真是自由的典范啊!

(观察者网何懿洁译,杨晗轶校,翻页阅读英文原文)

My favourite sketch in the surrealist comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus is the one where working-class Venezuelans take to the streets, demanding neoliberal economic reforms. Okay, I made that one up myself. But it speaks to the absurdity of the idea that we can only imagine it in Python. This did not stop The Telegraph from making such an assertion. As their editorial explained, ‘today, nationalisation is a dirty word in Venezuela, and people are clamouring for their industries to be privatised again’. This is seen as common sense, so no evidence needs to be given - not even a fake quotation from a fictional farmer named Fernando.

Their conclusion - that, because it didn’t work in Venezuela, ‘the discredited ideology of socialism must be consigned to the dustbin of history’ - is just another example of their conjuring editorial positions out of reckless self-interest and blithe ignorance. It’s not so much a coherent sentence as the sound of teeth chattering at the prospect of Comrade Corbyn’s Palace Coup - they admit so much in the headline. Not even well-meaning, The Telegraph has been, consistently, spectacularly, the densest of all Western broadsheets. (Like being the gayest of The Village People, this is no mean feat.) Fired by the zeal of International Liberalism and an ignorance of local social, historical, and political circumstances, The Telegraph is representative of an ideology in which everyone wants to be them.

To claim that Venezuela’s failure means that socialism can and will never work is no different from using an unplugged dishwasher as evidence of the universal, inevitable failure of such appliances. All the conditions needed for socialism, or any political philosophy, to function, are absent: this is the Venezuelan Problem. President Maduro’s senseless economic policies are itself just a symptom of endemic problems with governance in the state. Indeed, Western analysis of the tragedy has repeatedly made a distinction between the poor policymaking of the regime and the corrupt government - in other words, policies were seen as being destructive even in a non-corrupt political environment. An understanding of Venezuelan history teaches us that the two are indistinct. The West is wilfully ignorant because it has already decided on the conclusion to which its analysis will come. However, a glance at the findings made by the father of Venezuela’s independence movement, Simon Bolivar, can show us the deep historical problems which the country is yet to overcome - of which today’s socialism is merely a symptom.

It is modern Venezuela’s Bacchanal tragedy that its enormous natural wealth should be the reason for its underdevelopment and persistently revolutionary population. 500 years ago, when the Conquistadors landed, the country was already rich, so there was no need to build structures that could create and spread wealth, as was the case in North America. Since the indigenous population was not wiped out, the colonialists remained a minority - a Creole elite, which upon independence in 1811, owned nearly all the land despite consisting of only 1% of the people. Following subsequent coups by this group, political Marxism became a far more compelling ideology. Compare the supple British constitution, resistant of revolution but encouraging of reform, with Venezuela’s.  It has had 26 of them - last time I checked.

Deep in despondency, and far away in exile, Simon Bolivar understood contemporary Venezuela more than anyone in the Western world today - and he's been dead for 200 years. Because ‘we were neither magistrates, nor financiers, and seldom merchants’, he claimed that representative institutions were unsuitable for Venezuela. His conclusion is even more difficult for modern liberals to accept. He asked, ‘with such a racial mixture, and such a moral record, can we afford to place laws above leaders and principles above man?’. In 1828, Bolivar enshrined a constitution where neither property nor law existed, but only the man - he, as dictator for life, with the freedom to choose his successor. This was a privilege Chavez would later enjoy.

We can now put modern Venezuelan policymaking into perspective. Western media outlets have reported the price controls and market distortions - undoubtedly clumsy and ill-conceived - as economic Marxism in action. But the economic rationalisation is just a smokescreen for that intractable affliction Bolivar simultaneously celebrated and decried: the man above the law. Based on the perplexing monetary arrangement in which Venezuela trades on three different currency exchanges, President Maduro and his cronies are able to sell dollars at 50,000 times the rate at which they buy them. Is this socialism, or the post-modern iteration of Bolivar’s unaccountable despotism?

However, there is hope: evidence that the Venezuelan Problem can be answered. It also shows that the poor policymaking of the regime and corruption are indistinct. Working in similar conditions, Bolivia has made similar policy goals successful. Its socialists have succeeded in maintaining strong growth and significantly reducing poverty in what are, arguably, more difficult circumstances. Bolivia has a greater history of fiscal mismanagement. Over the past 50 years, their inflation rate has averaged at 281%. It is currently at 3.01%. Over a similar period, Venezuela’s has averaged at 94% - by all means princely, but small by comparison. It is now at 13,000%. Bolivia has also experienced less of a commodities boom. When the socialist president, Evo Morales, came to power in 2004, the export revenue was $2.2 billion. By 2014, it had grown to $16.85 billion. On the other hand, Venezuela’s grew from $23 billion to $153 billion.

Bolivia doesn’t find itself sliding into Venezuela’s situation because during its economic boom, Morales’ administration saved, running budget surpluses rather than deficits. Since Bolivia’s experience of a similar socio-economic breakdown in 1982 (when inflation hit 24,000%), political pragmatism and successful reforms have been possible thanks to a strong plurinational settlement. Cultural sensitivity, the removal of the military from politics, and the encouragement of foreign investment (tempering ideological Marxism) were central to this. This good government was a resolution of the Conquistadors’ legacy. This - particularly the depoliticisation of the military - is not addressed in the answers to the Venezuelan Problem provided by the Western media, which ignore local circumstances.

The Financial Times has written that ‘the aim is not regime change per se,’ before offering a vision of just that - ‘rather an administration that abides by the constitution, stabilises the economy, allows for elections, and liberates political prisoners’. Colombia’s president has similarly suggested a ‘rise of factors inside power that enjoy military support, restore democracy and the legitimacy of the constitution, and hold elections quickly’. The New York Times has stated that ‘the question is how to get rid of Mr Maduro before he completes the destruction of his country’. This assertion is quickly - and coincidentally, I am sure - followed by a reminder that Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, before continuing ‘but that emphatically does not mean American military action, as hinted by President Trump… It’s hard to see how regime change led by the Trump administration would improve Venezuela’s lot’. The insinuation seems to be that regime change would be fine under the former tree-hugging, drone-driving fist-bumper-in-chief.

This time, with their policy of regime change but not regime change, it is the liberals engaged in the supposedly Marxist innovation of double-think. Three facts are essential: the political prisoners are mainly those who led the 2002 military coup; the director of Latin America for the liberal Eurasia group said before the recent election that Maduro would win even if it were free and fair; and the only constitution that has any credibility in Venezuela is the unwritten one that says constitutions have no credibility. Therefore, the FT and Colombia have called for the restoration of a liberal, democratic system which has never existed, and a constitution that has never had any legitimacy, by a military coup against a regime that has majority support. This resembles the 60s not only in its affection for military dictatorships, but warped sense of reality.

The New York Times’ solution of increased sanctions and support for the opposition is perhaps more thoughtless. Since Maduro apparently threatened to revoke food rations from those who did not vote for him, and sanctions tend to inflict most damage on the poorest, such Western moves will only allow the president to blame America for problems that are his own making. Latin American politicians are well-practised in this. Additionally, elections are neither free nor fair if the opposition is being backed by foreign powers - the Times ought to understand this better than most, given their paranoia over Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election.

Western aggression would be seen as an attempt to restore neoliberalism in Venezuela, of which there is genuine resentment amongst Maduro’s core vote. The 20 years of such policy saw poverty rise by 45%. Chavez’s popularity drew from his success in rolling much of this back, halving poverty from 50% to 25%, and extreme poverty by two-thirds. Although I don’t believe opposition leaders should be thrown in jail, Western elites must understand how difficult it is for Venezuelans to believe there would be any less political repression under a US-endorsed regime. The imprisonment of a few isolated figures hostile to their life-chances and sense of pride is unlikely to faze them. The Caracazo riots, in response to the reforms of a president who called the neoliberal IMF ‘a neutron bomb that kills people’ before implementing the neoliberal reforms of the said organisation, saw up to 2,000 deaths and the suspension of most of the articles in the constitution guaranteeing personal liberty.

The last experiment in Venezuelan neoliberalism led to levels of social unrest arguably worse than that seen today. Its shadow looms large over the threats of regime change - yet it is undoubtedly the end the West has in sight. In Western minds, socialism is our invention (founded in the British Library), and one that we have realised doesn’t work - a finding that the rest of the world will slowly, but surely come to also. In the quietly bigoted idea of ‘developmental stages’ (which has more than a hint of Marx to it), we are steps ahead of the world - by hook or by crook, they will soon see the errors of their ways. Thus the failure of socialism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, blinding liberals from any examination of unique circumstances at play. However, the West’s conviction that the low and middle income countries of the world are ‘developing’ (a term not used accidentally), and doing so towards the model of the en vogue liberalism of the time, is coming under greater scrutiny. It simply doesn’t bear out in the facts - nobody would describe China or Russia as becoming more ‘liberal’.

This is today’s form of white supremacy. In a depraved kind of way, the Western response to the Venezuelan crisis shows how contemporary thinking is almost worse in this regard than during the age of empire - a time which has become synonymous with racism. In the logic of liberalism, it follows that intervention - by invasion or imperialism - expedites the coming of a Western political system (the universal end), and therefore alleviates suffering.

But in this post-Iraq world, we are at our most benevolent when we let ‘developing’ countries get on with the inexorable march of International Liberalism alone - with less inward investment than that offered by the British Empire, and less security than that found in Occupied Iraq - rather than forcing our creed upon them. At worst, we inflict crippling sanctions, or less tactfully, bomb them - both of which hurt the already-suffering poorest most.

Certain political and economic conditions and policies should not be demanded in exchange for aid - only an insistence upon non-corrupt government. This mustn’t be done through shock therapy, but gradually. It should be state-led, but not dogmatic. If this is followed, sovereign states will be able to forge their own paths.

Nowadays, rather than inflicting the terror of creating political institutions which give the vulnerable security and create some wealth, we have the self-control to restrain ourselves to spitting in the faces of the normal men and women who have no responsibility over the fiscal policies of their state - how very liberal of us!

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朱萧发

朱萧发

剑桥大学新生,青年观察者

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